I had to give up my pilot dream early in my childhood because I cannot handle spins and had a deep scar in my head. When I was admitted to National University of Defense Technology (NUDT, which, by the way, produced the fastest computer in the world right now according to top500.org), I chose the Department of Applied Mechanics, which had majors in rockets and missiles. I was put in the major of solid rocket engines. During my junior year, I decided to switch major to aerodynamics. Shortly after that, Academician Zhang Hanxin, who is a member of Chinese Academy of Sciences, visited NUDT, and introduced me to CFD, which I was immediately attracted to. In my final semester, I spent 3 months doing a senior design project at the China Aerodynamic Research and Development Center (CARDC) in Mianyang, Sichuan to study the artificial compressibility method developed by Professor Zhang. My direct project advisor was Mr. He Fangshang, who told me many stories about Academician Zhang. The favorite one was that Prof. Zhang remembered exactly which pages all the equations were on after he studied a book, for only once. The senior design project was a wonderful experience, which completely hooked me to CFD.
After obtaining my BS degree, I decided to pursue a MS degree at NUDT under the direction of Professor Zhang, who was also an adjunct professor of NUDT. I spent about three or four months in CARDC in 1986 to attend Professor Zhang's lectures on total variation diminishing (TVD) schemes before leaving for Glasgow University in Scotland to pursue my PhD degree sponsored by the Sino-British Friendship Scholarship Scheme. My PhD thesis title was "Total Variation Diminishing Schemes for Steady Flow Computations".
I am indebted to Academician Zhang for first introducing me to CFD, teaching me the basics, and inspiring me with his passion and dedication. His physics based approach to developing numerical methods has a long lasting impact on CFD development. Last month, a CFD workshop was organized in Mianyang, Sichuan, to celebrate Prof. Zhang's 80th birthday. It was a wonderful workshop with many excellent talks by top CFD researchers from all over the world.
Happy 80th Birthday and Best Wishes, Academician Zhang!